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Thursday, November 1, 2012
Xiangxi 2: Falling Into Cave (落洞)
A mysterious cave in Xiangxi
Xiangxi (湘西) becomes mysterious because of its walking death (赶尸), Chengzhou Fu (辰州符) and Luotong (落洞).
“Luotong” literarily means “falling into cave”. It is only specific
to ladies and Xiangxi region only. There are many big and small mysterious
caves in Xiangxi and local folks believe that these cave spirits will come out
and look for human wife.
Girl falling into cave (女子落洞):
“meaning the person is either loved by cave spirit or her soul is snatched away
(by the cave spirit).”
certain stage in a Xiangxi girl’s life that she seems to fall into a state of
addiction, her face becomes as brilliant as peach flower, and her eyes are as
bright as the stars. Her voice is as enchanting as musical instrument while her
body emitted a type of fragrance. She wipes furniture, sweeps and washes the
floor until an original dilapidated home becomes clean and free of dust. This
girl is as if entered into an unworldly realm. According to local belief, this
girl has already given herself to god, so she lives in a fantasy and happy
world. This girl is now uninterested in any worldly man, she awaits her god to
fetch her in an auspicious day. When the day finally comes, the girl will die
with a smile. Hence is the description of “falling into cave”.
parents can only burn her belongs outside a cave in lieu of an actual marriage
ceremony. For a few knowledgeable parents, they will marry the girl with a
worldly man to break the cave spirit’s spell. It is said that nine out of ten
girls fallen into cave will die, the sole survivor will become crazy as if her
soul is snatched by the cave spirit.
A writer Shen Chongwen wrote in his book:
“Ladies in Xiangxi have three critical stages in their
From 16 to 23 years old: they are beautiful but keep things
to themselves, failed to have a good marriage; these girls easily fall into
cave and died.
Around 30 years old: they tend to become witches.
In old age: the ladies tend to become Phi Pop.
It is indeed the hysterical part of ladies in Xiangxi that
makes Xiangxi a secretive place for the outsiders. Hiding behind these secrets
are moving tragedies and enchanting poetries. ”